David Tutin
March 8, 2024

An inspiring story on International Women’s Day – Glasswall’s Lynn Randall

On International Women's Day 2024, we are profiling Lynn Randall, Glasswall's Company Secretary, who brings an inspiring story to this year's event. With a varied career spanning nearly half a century, she is ideally placed to share her insight about how the world of work has evolved for women, and how her own career change at the age of 50 offers an example to others.

Tell us about your career background.

Having left school in 1974, I got my first job as an office junior in a plastics factory. I got married three years later and worked in a typing pool at a solicitor's office for 12 months before the arrival of my first child the following year. With no childcare or nurseries available at the time, I had to care for my children full-time for five years, during which time my second child was also born.

Having returned to work, my other roles then included working at a Friendly Society, a catering company and a hospitality business in various administrative positions. Then, at the age of 50, my career took an unexpected turn. I had been doing some bookkeeping work and was offered the chance to go to college to study accountancy for three years, attending two evenings a week.

This turned out to be a very successful choice despite the extremely daunting prospect of sitting exams and being the oldest student in the class. And then, ten years ago, I got the opportunity to join Glasswall. At the time, I worked as part of a six-person team in a small London office, which is a huge contrast to today, when we have over 75 employees in the UK and US.

What are some of the biggest changes and challenges you've seen for women in the workplace over your career?

When I had my children, it was generally expected that you would stay at home as a mother, not least because, for many women, there was simply no childcare help available. Fast-forward to today, and it’s encouraging to see there are so many more opportunities for women than 50 years ago. While the ongoing push for equality has made a big difference, there is still a long way to go, and the lack of childcare can be very limited for working mothers who should be given all the support they need to pursue or resume their careers.

One of the biggest positive changes has also been the growth in the number of women in the office environment in general and positions of responsibility in particular. This is not only important for employers and employee career development but also for workplace wellbeing. In my earlier roles, I would have had no one to talk to in the office environment about being a working mother or any other issues that were specific to women – a situation which, I’m happy to report, is very different today.

Attitudes have also changed significantly among women starting their careers now. I went to work mainly to help out my family financially and wasn't so focused on a career path. But many women today have the opportunity to raise a family, have a fulfilling career and pursue opportunities in the technology industry, for example, that would not have been possible at the start of my career journey.

There has also been a big change in the way people such as myself approach and manage the prospect of retirement. Historically, retirement has generally involved moving from full-time employee to retired ex-employee in one daunting step. My experience at Glasswall has been completely different, with the company supporting my move to a three-day week, helping me prepare more effectively for the future.

How have you managed your work-life balance? What advice would you offer other working women?

The main advice I would give is that you don't have to be available all the time. I have seen many people compete over who can work the longest hours, but on reflection, work/life balance is all about priorities because while work is very important, it isn't everything. Without this mindset, it can be very hard to achieve any real balance in your life.

Tell us more about your career change. What advice would you offer to people in a similar situation?

The opportunity to study accountancy later in my career was a big turning point that gave me a lot of confidence. My advice would be that if at any point you get the chance at an interesting career change, even if it is something you wouldn’t have imagined, it might be worth seriously considering. At the same time, you've got to want it but also have the belief that you can make it work. You might not be actively looking for a career change, and I certainly never thought about going into finance and accounting before that chance appeared, but I’m very glad it did.

I didn't take the decision to change careers lightly. But, the move revitalized me and gave me an entirely new perspective. My advice to others is don't let age or self-doubt hold you back from taking your career in an exciting new direction when the right opportunity knocks.

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